Behind the scenes, all is not smooth sailing with the chief of staff, whose exit has been rumored in stories identical to this for the past year.
According to a senior staffer, Trump no longer obeys Kelly’s commands and has started to run loose through the White House grounds at night, sometimes biting the heads off small rodents and refusing to give them up even when Kelly holds out the promise of a rally at which the president won’t have to denounce any white supremacists.
Kelly is frequently frustrated, the staffer says, because his preferred issues, including Cool, Fun Things ICE Could Maybe Do, have been placed on the back burner, and although Kelly painstakingly reviews a PowerPoint presentation with the president every night before Executive Time, doing a special voice for each policy area, Trump is generally unresponsive and makes lip farts until he has finished, sometimes even addressing him as “Reince,” the ultimate sign of disrespect.
Trump no longer trusts Kelly, a staffer confirmed, and to get the president’s attention, Kelly has reportedly resorted to arriving at meetings on a scooter, claiming Vladimir Putin is on the phone and throwing pieces of steak across the room. The president has further strained his relationship with Kelly by hiding television remotes around the White House so Kelly cannot take them all away from him. When Kelly tries to build Policy Time into his schedule, Trump runs down the clock of a two-hour meeting by telling a long-winded story that turns out to be the plot of an infomercial aired on Fox Business at 3 a.m., then demanding immediate action on it.
Kelly is only staying, one senior official confirmed, because he feels he can still make certain immigrants’ lives hell and believes so strongly in the administration’s mission of wanton cruelty that he is willing to bear almost any indignity.
Trump has also taken Kelly’s cherished conch and smashed his glasses, and he is letting Roger Stone throw small rocks at him from a distance, according to the same senior staffer, who said he would stake his life, his fortune and his sacred name on Kelly’s guaranteed exodus, on background.
One person familiar with West Wing goings-on who sounds a lot like Stephen K. Bannon, and I won’t say for sure is not Stephen K. Bannon, insisted that things in the White House were literally worse than they had ever been and that Kelly was sure to be beheaded within the hour, like Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. Also the source wanted me to note that Stephen K. Bannon is doing something different and much better with his hair and is in, just, a really good place and soon even Jared and Ivanka will notice that they need him.
Kelly is barely keeping it together, according to another senior official, and the only thing that keeps him motivated is shouting F-bombs at an effigy of John Bolton each night until he is so exhausted he drops to the floor in a swoon, murmuring, “I don’t know that I can take much more of this,” as dreamless slumber claims him.
“He is not going anywhere, and Donald Trump gives thanks every day to God for putting a man like General Kelly in his path,” a White House spokesman said on the record while off-the-record screaming could be heard from inside the Oval Office before Kelly was flung through a plate-glass window, exited the grounds shaking his fist and vowed that he was done, done for good this time.
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